The tv show Switched at birth will never be completely disability centered until it has audio description

This is a very important subject I need to let my readers know about.

There is a teen drama on ABC family called Switched at Birth. It’s about two families who’s daughters were accidentally switched at birth. The catch is that one is deaf.

This show does a great job of exploring many issues that occur in the deaf community. And of presenting a character with a disability as an actual person nont a lesson in disability or something. A huge feature of the show is the use of deaf actors and ASL which is used as often or more than English.

The show also features other disabilities, for example Down’s syndrome. It would be nice just to round things out if they included a blind person but hey you can’t get everything in life LOL!

One thing I feel us blind viewers have a right to, and will eventually get, is audio description for this show. For those who don’t know audio description is an audio track that runs alongside the audio of the show. It comments on all visual aspects of the show such as setting, character appearance, facial expressions ETC. In the case of this show it’s even more needed as much of the communication is in ASL so many silent conversations going on. The audio describer would not only read the subtitles but comment on the facial expression and actions of the characters as they’re communicating.

Though similar to closed captioning for some reason, audio description is far less available or has been. Many advocacy groups have pushed for it’s inclusion and there have been great steps including several laws mandating that a certain percent of shows on a tv network have AD, as well as movie theaters, and now internet streaming platforms.

The accessibile digital media project has taken great strides to get audio description included in most netflicks content. This is all great news.

One would think this show of all shows out there, being focused on disability, having something so visual in it’s content ETC, would automatically have gotten AD without much thought. Unfortunately this is not the case. Below is a blog post that is on the accessibile digital media project’s blog which I wrote and has been shared with several different people though not enough.

https://netflixproject.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/why-we-want-audio-description-on-switched-at-birth/

Please share both these posts with as many as possible.

On the audio description side many audio describers have been contacted. The results on this end have been extremely positive, with theseprofessionals coming to the same conclussions we have, why wasn’t this done from the start? And saying that in the skeme of things it wouldn’t be very expensive or hard to do.

The big problem we’re having is who would give license for the show to be described. As the show is ending this coming year, and it’s very hard to get shows in AD once they’re off the air, it’s unlikely this will happen through the network itself. Efforts to connect with people at the network and really have a dialogue have not gone well. The producer seems to not want to do much about this.

However there are other avenues. Netlficks has the series as part of it’s content. And it’s gotten the most pushing to make it’s content accessible. However contacting anyone at netflicks has lead nowhere with literally no response. Our only other option at this time is apple TV which also has a lot of audio described content. But again we’re unable to locate a contact person to discuss this further.

I believe this will happen. It will just take awhile and a lot of advocacy which we can’t do alone. If you’re interested in helping doing one of the following would be much appreciated: Share this post, or the linked blog post with as many as possible! If you’re a part of a magazine, newspaper, or other media that supports those with disabilities consider doing an interview with us. The blog post linked has contact info for the people at netflicks. It would be worth a huge try contacting them. Mostly we just need more people on board to get this going.

There was a show called daredevil about some blind guy. Just didn’t sound like something I could stand two minutes of watching. But anyway, there was this huge outrage that the show was about a blind person and wasn’t audio described. Though this issue isn’t as clear cut, (and some want to debate over the wisdom of ASL being spoken) it’s very similar. We need to get that kind of momentum going and the only way to do so is to work together discussing options and next steps, and politely but firmly insisting on equal access to a show that’s been called one of the most disability centered pieces of media currently. However as the subject states it will never be fully disability centered until the blind have access to it.

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